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June 01, 2004

Is the momentum building?

Call me a hopeless optimist, but after the largely positive, informed and thoughtful responses to my recent article both at the dog and at Slashdot, I feel that all may not be lost.

When the reasonably mainstream IT press publishes articles like InformIT's "The Browser Wars Re-ignite" then maybe the realization that something very important is at stake might move beyond the ghetto of "standards zealots" and slashdotnicks, to where it really matters, IT decision makers and ultimately web users.

Nigel McFarlane writes there

Make no mistake: Microsoft really hates the web. The new browser war may appear to be about the emergence of Mozilla and friends with their polished eye-candy interfaces, but it's really about Microsoft versus the W3C. Internet Explorer is Microsoft's blocking tactic—never to be properly web-compliant, never to give the W3C a day in the sun—and Longhorn technology is the big-stick alternative being built. One of the purposes of Longhorn is to destroy the web as we know it.

his emphasis.

It's a strong case, and debatable, only in the sense that it may not be Microsoft's agenda to kill the web. But at the very least the death of the standards based open world wide web may very well be the consequence of the chice to let IE obsolesce over a 5 year period from its release in late 2001 until Longhorn's release in 2006.

What can you do about it?

Tell everyone you know to give Firefox, or Safari, or Opera a go. They work, they are great pieces of software, they are 20 minutes away by dialup or only a couple of minutes away over high speed connection. And after 10 minutes of a faster, cleaner, popup free, tabbed web experience, you won't look back.

And then go and let Microsoft know that you've made that browser your default way of viewing the web.

If you think the web is important, you owe it to yourself and to the web to do this.

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Comments

Try also: http://dean.edwards.name/IE7/

Posted by: Alexander | Jun 3, 2004 12:14:03 AM

What about MyIE2?

Anyway, isn't the future of web standards going to be more about BPEL4WS and RSS rather than CSS?

Posted by: Cameron | Jun 3, 2004 3:22:14 PM

I am sick of this crap that web is going away or something. We see this FUD almost everyday on Slashdot. Simply you guys are saying that Microsoft is going to eat us and that instead we should pay our money somewherelse, like pay 39$ to Opera, or thousands of dollars to Apple, or many more to Linux companies (Redhat). Microsoft contributed to web, more than you guys did. While you are crying, Microsoft implemented many more standards before Netscape. In fact only after years Netscape caught up with Microsoft, Opera never did and its browser is simply a piece of crap. Bashing Microsoft is easy for you, but when will you come up with something meaningful. I also want you to know that I was thinking to buy style master, until I saw your anti-Microsoft articles. Maybe you will discontinue your software in the future for windows because of your anti-Microsoft views, who knows. Why should your customers buy from a person who is so anti-Microsoft that he is ready to dump his customers just for his religious views.

If you are a Slashdotter, probably you think you will save the world if you dump your windows customers. And by the way, isn't it a nice trick to recommend Safari to Windows customers and then tell them to complain to Microsoft. Are you saying that we are stupid enough to spend thousands of dollars, just to satisfy your own religious, baseless views. I don't think so.

Posted by: Alex | Jun 6, 2004 12:14:28 PM

By the way another important point, The Browser Wars Reignite article is written by a guy who is the author of Rapid Application Development with Mozilla. Interesting, isn't it? Yes, let's all use Firefox and pay 45$ to him, oh wait, there is a discount, it is only 40$. We are lucky. Let's make him rich, while we are saving the web, somehow by only using Firefox, not that anything changes, since IE6 renders the pages the same way (do you know what DOCTYPE is about?).

I realized that, some people are trying to use "web standards" thing to be recognized on the net, so that clients will choose them first. The best way to attrack customers seem to be attacking Microsoft. They are really abusing the customers though with this FUD.

Posted by: Alex | Jun 6, 2004 12:23:04 PM

Alex,

a very smple question

Do you think the world wide web should be based on open standard technologies, over which no single company, or small number of companies has control? Or do you believe it is fine for a small number of companies to "enclose the commons" of the web? To be in favour of a standards based world wide web is not to be against Microsoft. But where Microsoft's (or anyone else's) strategies are harmful to an open, standards based web, if that is what you support, it is fundamentally important to state that case, and be critical of those things which harm the web. IE6 is harmful to the web

A couple of weeks ago I wrote

A couple of people at Microsoft deserve much praise for going ahead and implementing CSS, Chris Wilson with IE3 for Windows, and Tantek Celik with IE 5 on the Mac, probably the first browser to show the real promise of CSS

Well spotted, I write software for Windows. It helps developers write standards based CSS and HTML. Most web developers use Windows.

You think it is smart business that makes me and others take this approach? That we are cynically investing enormous amounts of our time and resources to promote, evangelize and help people work with web standards, something that is really in its infancy and which most people don't really seem to care about. We'd be idiots if that were the case.

Alex, I find it interesting that you are accusing me and others like me of being cynical, manipulative, religious, hypocritical and dishonest. But your language is full of emotive, agressive and down right irrational language and arguments. Why? Why has this pushed your buttons so much? Why do you really care if a small number of people have a different world view, and work hard to at least have it heard? I'm curious why you are so angry about this. Come one, Microsoft can look after themselves.

Why are you so angry about me making money, Apple making money, Mozilla making money, Red Hat making money, Opera making money? You should be #$%*ing furious about Microsoft making money in which case. Unless only they have that right, which seems a reasonable implication to draw.

One last thing, a technical one. You say

since IE6 renders the pages the same way [as firefox] (do you know what DOCTYPE is about?).

You bet Nigel knows about DOCTYPEs, as do I.
But you clearly have little real idea, because the whole point is that in strict mode IE does not get many aspects of CSS and XHTML/HTML rendering right.
IE6 is 3 years old. In the same time as it has essentially not been updated, Safari has emerged from nowhere, and it, Mozilla/Firefox, and Opera have all made significant improvements in their support for CSS 2, XHTML, PNG, The DOM and other web standards. What have MS done in that time? Three years is ludicrously long in terms of application development. And they have done absolutely nothing. Their good support of web standards in 2001 (I'm on the record elsewhere as having praised MS for their past support fo standards) has become very poor over three years as the benchmark has been raised.

This is an emerging crisis for a standards based web.

Posted by: John Allsopp | Jun 6, 2004 3:59:23 PM

I have read this blog on a couple of occassions and quite honestly I agree with Alex and Cameron. You are utilising a concept that is well known and extrapolating on it as though you had come up with a radical and thought provoking idea. Microisoft make money and a lot of it. By the sounds of it your pretty pissed that you don't make any money from the c*** that you peddle. I also have to add that iI think your a pretty self indulgent guy!

Posted by: Ben | Jun 8, 2004 7:26:30 PM

Two points.

1. I think one is allowed to be self-indulgent on one's own blog!

2. Who cares who is making money or whether the motivation is making money? I don't understand why it's fine to be an enormous exploitative multinational but somehow dirty to be a smaller company (see recent Movable Type debate). Personally I'd rather a company that believed in the common good made the profit rather than the company that aggressively pursues a monopoly and in the process kills the goose that lays the golden egg.

Posted by: Toni | Jun 9, 2004 9:55:35 AM

John,
I have a simple question for you, does Microsoft and its browser support the current standards in the web? Yes, don't lie please, they do support them. What's the specific Micorosoft's strategy you are referring to? You are clearly lying to us, trying to be seen as the good guy without making much sense. You use terms like, open, standard and so on and you claim that Microsoft is trying to sway us from using these technologies. I do use these standards and I am fine with IE. You are accusing people who show that you are not correct in these issues. For simple stuff like PNG support and some few bugs you are accusing Microsoft for hijacking the web, that's quite ridicilous and only a slashdotter will take you seriously. I am sick of these lies. I am also developing for mozilla and I know the number of bugs in that platform. Just check out bugzilla.


"You think it is smart business that makes me and others take this approach? That we are cynically investing enormous amounts of our time and resources to promote, evangelize and help people work with web standards, something that is really in its infancy and which most people don't really seem to care about. We'd be idiots if that were the case."
People use technologies, they read books, research on web and try to make things work. That's what people do. If you disrespect people and want them to obey your commands, you are in the wrong business, people don't care about your rules. We use HTML today, that's a standard and it works, your claim that people don't use standards is a clear lie. People do use standards, otherwise how would browsers render today's web. What people don't do is, continously validate their web pages, and they don't use css all the time, or that they use tables or that they use javascript or that they use IE specific extensions or technologies. It is not that they don't use the standards, but it is simply that they use some additional things that make their life easier or avoid using some additional technologies that don't make sense to them or that they don't have time to learn them. If you want to be sucessful in software business, respect your customers first. The ultimate goal is to make it easier for people to use technology, not harder. If you constantly accuse people for not being morally correct, because they forget to close a comment or didn't write a comment or didn't use a particular methodology, you will end up being one of the projects on the fringe, which claims to be the best thing in the world without being used by people. This is all the same crap. Oh, not that I don't use the standards you are talking about, I love to use CSS and so on, but I am certainly not going to lie about facts to sell my product. Search web standards on the google and you don't see W3C as the first result, you see a group called web standards project which tries to take credit for the work of thousands of programmers and W3C. Clearly you are another person who wants to do the same.

"But your language is full of emotive, agressive and down right irrational language and arguments. Why? Why has this pushed your buttons so much? Why do you really care if a small number of people have a different world view, and work hard to at least have it heard? I'm curious why you are so angry about this. Come one, Microsoft can look after themselves."
Because I am sick of these lies. You see, I am using Firefox, I am using CSS, XHTML and so on, but this stupid "I am for web standards" profit only the big players who seem to be recognized for this issue. It is quite clear that more and more people will use CSS, but it is not because you told me so, it is because CSS is useful and Microsoft and others implemented it. So, you take credit by doing nothing but ranting in your web site. And clearly your anti-Microsoft stance is a threat to me as a Windows user. I have invested time into these technologies, if you say the same thing about HTML I would react the same way.


"Why are you so angry about me making money, Apple making money, Mozilla making money, Red Hat making money, Opera making money? You should be #$%*ing furious about Microsoft making money in which case. Unless only they have that right, which seems a reasonable implication to draw."
Don't twist it again. I am not angry that they are making money, I am angry that you are attacking Windows users and you want them to go and switch because you think that they will be part of the evil or that they are helping evil. I think you are as evil as Microsoft, and clearly more since Microsoft doesn't tell me that buying Apple or Linux is dangerous, for example they could tell us that Linux represents communism or something like that. But you do tell us such baseless lies without backing them up. Clearly you are using various FUD tactics to make people switch to other platforms, and that is an insult my time invested in Microsoft's products I bought and used over the years. I don't disrepect your choice of platform, but I can not accept your attacks to my choice.

"But you clearly have little real idea, because the whole point is that in strict mode IE does not get many aspects of CSS and XHTML/HTML rendering right."
Just check out bugzilla and see the number of bugs there.

"IE6 is 3 years old. In the same time as it has essentially not been updated"
So what? IE was years ahead of Netscape long time ago, only recently Firefox caught up with IE, and only recently I switched to Firefox, they are pretty much the same, except tab browsing is better.

"Safari has emerged from nowhere, and it, Mozilla/Firefox, and Opera have all made significant improvements in their support for CSS 2, XHTML, PNG, The DOM and other web standards."
There is no significant improvements in these browsers, I recently replace IE with firefox, despite the fact that I tried mozilla few times before. I know Gecko inside out, and there are lots of bugs there too. In terms of DOM Firefox and IE is pretty much the same, you can do everything in both browsers, though in advanced stuff IE is better. Firefox has some few more features in CSS. For PNG IE's only problem is transparency.

But here I want to show how your accusations against Microsoft is really baseless and quite frankly FUD to force us switching to other platforms. I checked out PNG's history and here is what I found : http://www.libpng.org/pub/png/pnghist.html. It says that IE is the first major browser to support PNG, and Netscape didn't support it initially. You see, your lie about Microsof hijacking the internet is not true at all. Continously you are making claims without backing it up, and that's something to be angry about, since you seem to get credit on the web for it.

"What have MS done in that time? Three years is ludicrously long in terms of application development. And they have done absolutely nothing. Their good support of web standards in 2001 (I'm on the record elsewhere as having praised MS for their past support fo standards) has become very poor over three years as the benchmark has been raised."
What has been raised? What's the new thing, Next Generation HTML? There is no more standards coming from W3C anymore, every major standard is being supported in IE, as a designer myself can do anything I want with IE and Firefox. The rest, Safari and Opera are still not good.

But aside from that point, I wonder this. How do you think making a new browser will change anything? IE 6 come with XP, so people who bought XP had IE 6. But, assume you have IE 7. Now what? Do you think that everybody will replace their browser? If Microsoft comes with IE 7, you will tell people not to download it, because Firefox is better or Safari is better, but now you dare to accuse Microsoft for not making a new product and you don't have a clue on how to push that product to Microsoft's install base. You just assume that people will install the new browser. Maybe you will accuse Microsoft for hijacking the web by not sending free IE7 to millions of computer users. Millions of people do not even bother with new stuff, as long as the existing thing works and with IE6 and no new standards, existing web sites will work. Yet, assuming that Microsoft comes with the new browser, you will still bash them for being too late, and that Firefox is better and blah blah. You're so unserious about these issues that it doesn't even worth to discuss it with you, since you give credit to Slashdot which is a primary source of false anti-Microsoft news.


"This is an emerging crisis for a standards based web."
There is only one crisis I see and that's the ability of people like you to spread FUD to people who don't suspect anything. They will figure it out sooner or later when more and more lies have been caught, since I don't see a limit in the number of lies coming out from you.

You didn't explain some of the questions I asked. Why do you recommend Safari to Windows users? Why do you want people to spend thousands of dollars to replace IE6 in their computer. I could understand Firefox, but why Safari, or even Opera, since it costs money, otherwise it shows you ads. What good faith is there? IE6 works in every site, yet you want people to pay up money for being able to browse the web?

Posted by: Alex | Jun 9, 2004 1:42:25 PM

Alex,

you write

"I have a simple question for you, does Microsoft and its browser support the current standards in the web? Yes, don't lie please, they do support them. What's the specific Micorosoft's strategy you are referring to? You are clearly lying to us, trying to be seen as the good guy without making much sense"

1. to accuse someone of lying is to strike at the heart of their character.
Now, I publicly put my opinions to the world, and allow the world to post at my expense their opinions about them.
I don't remove comments that disagree with me, or even attack me personally, as a small number here do. Does that not convey a certain character somewhat at odds with dishonesty? I even reply curteously, and with reason to some such posts.

To your question

"I have a simple question for you, does Microsoft and its browser support the current standards in the web?"

You answer yes.

I disagree.

1. IE for the Mac has been completey abandoned.
2. IE 6 for windows was released in October 1991. Since then essentially no improvements have been made in its support for standards.
3. Microsoft are on the record as saying that there will be no new versions of IE for any current PC ever. The next version of IE is slated for release with Longhorn, which is cuyrrently at least two years off.

So while Microsoft aggressively updated their browser while it was not dominant in the market place, to the benefit of web standards. Now that IE dominates the market, there are no new versions, and as such the standards based web suffers because of IE's increasingly obsolete support for those standards.

I will not bite and descend into a slanging match. It simply strikes me that you are misunderstanding my point. Please go and re read the posts, and then see that your criticism is simply at cross purposes.

As to some substantive observations you make

1. PNG without transparency is useless. One of GIFs most important features is single color transparncy, and it is also one of its major shortcomings. PNGs are designed to relace GIF more than JPEG, and without transparency are largely useless. would it be that hard to fix? In three years? No, so clearly MS have made a strategic decision not to improve PNG, effectively killing it.

2. you really have to go away and undertand what is meant by the term standards. Many of your points betay an inability to distinguish between a published standard and customary practice. What people do, or what is supported in the most widely used browser is not necessarily a standard.

Alex, you have anumber of point by point objections to what I say, most of which I feel don't really get the point of my overall argument. but what is the point of your overall argument, other than I am deceitful for no stated reason other than perhaps an irrational loathing of Microsoft.

so what is your point exactly?

john

Posted by: John Allsopp | Jun 9, 2004 2:08:46 PM

Alex,

I have never before commented on this blog, but your outrageous comments have driven me to it.

It's one thing to disagree with John but totally another to ascribe motivations to him ie. that he is lying to make a profit. It's not only a totally unfair and unfounded accusation - it's defamatory.

Disagree with him, call him misguided, call him a fool if you must but don't call him a liar. It only makes you look bad. And it's the sort of behaviour which makes bloggers turn their comments feature off so that they don't have to be subject to libellous personal attacks. Which makes it a smaller blogging world for all of us.

Posted by: Sara Lander | Jun 9, 2004 2:31:22 PM

John, thanks for your kind comments.

First of all IE 6 didn't come out in 1991. That's completely false. Accusing Microsoft for abandoning IE for Mac is nonsense, because you probably know that it is the best for Mac users, Apple and Microsoft. Yes, I am also not happy that there is no new version of IE, but I am not going to spit out lies against Microsoft or attempt to make it look like evil because of it. Microsoft may have other priorities. As of now, IE 6 has very few issues that needs to be fixed. They are not the obstacles for designers or programmers. That's something I don't understand, if you are really honest, since many people are simply trying to bash Microsoft, then please explain us what exactly holds you back. Almost everything has a fix for IE, and Mozilla has also tons of bugs that you have to deal with. So I think Microsoft bashers are going over the board here by accusing Microsoft.

If you are a honest person who truly loves web design, please spend your energy on positive and real stuff, rather than Microsoft bashing. Microsoft bashing doesn't do much for people, it is simply an entertainment for slashdotters.

Posted by: Alex | Jun 20, 2004 6:30:31 PM

Alex,

>First of all IE 6 didn't come out in 1991. That's completely false.

I think anyone would realize that was a typo, of course it is 2001.

john

Posted by: John Allsopp | Jun 20, 2004 6:41:22 PM

Alex,

the arguement that Microsoft isn't updating IE6 until 2006, five years after it came out, is that there will be no effort during this time to improve it. Mozilla has bugs, Safari has bugs, every piece of software has its shortcomings-- however, Mozilla, Safari, and Opera are still being produced and released on a regular basis. They now support more than IE6 does in terms of CSS support, and bugs for these browsers are being fixed with every new release. Right now, it is 2004, and there will be more advancements in CSS and XHTML within the next two years, which these alternative browsers will more quickly support than IE.

Even if the release of IE in Longhorn renders webpages almost exactly to the spec, and supports CSS2 and CSS3, because people were using IE6 up until that time, a large majority of web pages wouldn't have been able to take advantage of advanced CSS. And the problem is only made greater, because the people who choose to use older versions of Windows will not even be able to update to this new browser. However, alternatives like Opera and Mozilla will still be able to people who won't use Longhorn, and in the future will support a much greater amount of technologies than IE6 today. If you were using Windows 98 in 2006, for whatever reason, you'd still be able to view complex css designs the same way that otherwise you'd have to buy Longhorn for.

Switching over to other browsers is a suggestion, maybe a biased one, but if nobody suggests for people to switch and gives them reasons to, then who will? Microsoft packaging IE with every copy of Windows is a suggestion, if you think about it. They don't force it on the user. Most people just don't decide to take the effort to choose another browser when they buy a computer, they just want the internet. But for the people who make the webpages, does it hurt to suggest that people use browsers which will support standards better-- and by that I mean work towards supporting the spec like it is, by continuously releasing new browser upgrades-- so that they can take advantage of new technology which the user will like more?

In your article, you said, "There is no more standards coming from W3C anymore, every major standard is being supported in IE, as a designer myself can do anything I want with IE and Firefox. The rest, Safari and Opera are still not good." I have to disagree, because CSS2 is definitely not fully supported in IE, and there's still CSS3 and XHTML 2.0 in the works...

But then again, I'm not saying Microsoft is evil. I still use IE, I find it much quicker to load than other browsers, if not because it's mostly embedded into the OS... and I still use Windows because I find it easier to use than Linux. And if IE was better than all the alternatives, I'd suggest IE instead.

Posted by: Charles | Jun 24, 2004 5:19:46 AM